Context matters. One’s surrounding can influence their mood, perception, and even the memories they form.
I know that my physical environment affects my productivity quite strongly. When I was writing assignments and my dissertation, I often went to the library. I would try to sit at the same computer, or at least at the same row, and I would have a specific set of websites open for referencing, fact checking, and background music. During the final month of my MSc when it felt like I was living my thesis I developed a routine of listening to a specific playlist. When the music stopped, so did I – it was time for a break. It helped me focus, as I began to associate the music with writing, and even when I didn’t feel like working, it helped me get in the rhythm of it.
I’ve often noticed how I become to associate certain places with certain moods. The library would make me feel all grown up with a bit of an imposter syndrome mixed in. The shopping centre near the end of the first road I lived on when I moved to this city reminds me of time spent there when I was trying to figure out being an adult (which detergent should I buy? why are there so many types of butter?). I associate the bar around the corner from my first job with a date gone wrong. Bus number X makes me think of my second job as I spent almost an hour on it each day commuting.
If I had the funds to have my own place, I would like to make a space that inspires productivity, creativity, but also relaxation. I would have a reading corner in the living room with a swallow-you-whole armchair and a couch that you can fall asleep on during a movie without fearing a cramp or stiff neck in the morning. I would have a large dinner table that would hopefully host a lot of chatter and some healthy meals. The kitchen would be neat and well equipped, with a proper juicer and coffee machine. A balcony from the master bedroom overlooking the city would be a welcome bonus, and the built-in wardrobes would have a floor-to-ceiling mirror panel. The place would be breezy and fresh in the summer, cozy and cinnamony in the winter. Thick socks would allow for dancing and sliding around the hardwood floor in the living room when the best songs come on. In the bathroom, the large bathtub and the strong overhead shower would help scrub off the day no matter what mood I’m in.
The room I’m occupying now is the 7th I’ve had since I first got a room to myself without needing to share with my sister. I’ve had posters in one, photos in another; a mishmash of old furniture here, all white IKEA in there; elaborate metal bedposts were replaced by a divan with no headboard. I’ve been renting, and there is only so much you can do to personalise a space that isn’t your own. I’ve been thinking about what if I had my own place for a long time now, but money and work never actually made it possible. And although I’ve imagined what texture the rugs would be and what I could see when I looked out the window, in all honesty, I wouldn’t care for much of that, so long as it was mine.